emo·​tion | \i-ˈmō-shən \

Definition of emotion 

1a obsolete : disturbance

b : excitement

2a : the affective aspect of consciousness : feeling

b : a state of feeling

c : a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for emotion


chord, feeling, passion, sentiment

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for emotion

feeling, emotion, affection, sentiment, passion mean a subjective response to a person, thing, or situation. feeling denotes any partly mental, partly physical response marked by pleasure, pain, attraction, or repulsion; it may suggest the mere existence of a response but imply nothing about the nature or intensity of it. the feelings that once moved me are gone emotion carries a strong implication of excitement or agitation but, like feeling, encompasses both positive and negative responses. the drama portrays the emotions of adolescence affection applies to feelings that are also inclinations or likings. a memoir of childhood filled with affection for her family sentiment often implies an emotion inspired by an idea. her feminist sentiments are well known passion suggests a very powerful or controlling emotion. revenge became his ruling passion

Examples of emotion in a Sentence

a display of raw emotion The defendant showed no emotion when the verdict was read. She was overcome with emotion at the news of her friend's death.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Perhaps the horror show could tackle the utterly terrifying emotion known as love. Ella Cerón, Teen Vogue, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Broke Kiernan Shipka's Heart — and She's OK With That," 12 Nov. 2018 Joining together with others to address the issue not only enables people to enhance their impact, but also provides social support that can help with the negative emotions. Patricia Garcia, Vogue, "If Climate Change Is Causing You Anxiety or Even Grief, Experts Say You are Not Alone," 19 Oct. 2018 Khashoggi also wrote about the conflicting emotions of seeing his country finally allow women to drive, while simultaneously imprisoning many of the female activists, like Loujain al-Hathloul, who had worked to make the milestone possible. Kayla Webley Adler, Marie Claire, ""It Shouldn’t Be a Crime In This World to Speak Your Mind"," 17 Oct. 2018 How could a show capture the deeply literate, intangible emotion of Ferrante's words onscreen? Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The First Trailer for 'My Brilliant Friend' Will Make You Want to Re-Read the Book," 30 Aug. 2018 If this had gone another way, maybe the emotions would be different. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "The swings and misses of George Brett's turn as the Royals' hitting coach," 8 July 2018 But the emotion and pain beneath the physicality, both in and out of that suit, are the elements that make Ghost a surprisingly sympathetic baddie. Jen Yamato, latimes.com, "Meet Hannah John-Kamen, breakout super-villain in 'Ant-Man and the Wasp'," 5 July 2018 But that soon evaporated in the unifying emotions of 9/11. SFChronicle.com, "A long tradition: Americans behaving badly," 5 July 2018 The documentary airing Sunday night on the History network gives a good, honest squeeze to the memory sponge of the Motor City and lets the emotions flow. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "'Detroit: Comeback City' documentary is personal, and that's a good thing," 1 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emotion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of emotion

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for emotion

Middle French, from emouvoir to stir up, from Old French esmovoir, from Latin emovēre to remove, displace, from e- + movēre to move

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about emotion

Statistics for emotion

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for emotion

The first known use of emotion was in 1579

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for emotion



English Language Learners Definition of emotion

: a strong feeling (such as love, anger, joy, hate, or fear)


emo·​tion | \i-ˈmō-shən \

Kids Definition of emotion

: strong feeling (as anger, love, joy, or fear) often accompanied by a physical reaction She flushed with emotion.


emo·​tion | \i-ˈmō-shən \

Medical Definition of emotion 

1 : the affective aspect of consciousness

2 : a state of feeling

3 : a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body — compare affect

Other Words from emotion

emotional \-​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl \ adjective
emotionality \-​ˌmō-​shə-​ˈnal-​ət-​ē \ noun plural emotionalities
emotionally \-​ˈmō-​shnə-​lē, -​shən-​ᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on emotion

What made you want to look up emotion? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!